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12 Apr. 1999
The situation in and around Kosovo
Statement Issued at the Extraordinary Ministerial
Meeting of the North Atlantic Council held at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, on 12th April
- The crisis in Kosovo represents a fundamental challenge to the values of democracy,
human rights and the rule of law, for which NATO has stood since its foundation. We are
united in our determination to overcome this challenge.
- The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has repeatedly violated United Nations Security
Council resolutions. The unrestrained assault by Yugoslav military, police and
paramilitary forces, under the direction of President Milosevic, on Kosovar civilians has
created a massive humanitarian catastrophe which also threatens to destabilise the
surrounding region. Hundreds of thousands of people have been expelled ruthlessly from
Kosovo by the FRY authorities. We condemn these appalling violations of human rights and
the indiscriminate use of force by the Yugoslav government. These extreme and criminally
irresponsible policies, which cannot be defended on any grounds, have made necessary and
justify the military action by NATO.
- NATO's military action against the FRY supports the political aims of the international
community: a peaceful, multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo in which all its people can live
in security and enjoy universal human rights and freedoms on an equal basis. In this
context, we welcome the statement of the UN Secretary-General of 9th April and the EU
Council Conclusions of 8th April.
- NATO's air strikes will be pursued until President Milosevic accedes to the demands of
the international community. President Milosevic knows what he has to do. He must:
- ensure a verifiable stop to all military action and the immediate ending of violence and
- ensure the withdrawal from Kosovo of the military, police and paramilitary forces;
- agree to the stationing in Kosovo of an international military presence;
- agree to the unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons and
unhindered access to them by humanitarian aid organisations;
- provide credible assurance of his willingness to work on the basis of the Rambouillet
Accords in the establishment of a political framework agreement for Kosovo in conformity
with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
- Responsibility for the present crisis lies with President Milosevic. He has the power to
bring a halt to NATO's military action by accepting and implementing irrevocably the
legitimate demands of the international community.
- We underline that NATO is not waging war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. We
have no quarrel with the people of the FRY who for too long have been isolated in Europe
because of the policies of their government.
- We are grateful for the strong and material support we have received from our Partners
in the region and more widely in the international community in responding to the crisis.
- The Alliance shares a common interest with Russia in reaching a political solution to
the crisis in Kosovo and wants to work constructively with Russia, in the spirit of the
Founding Act, to this end.
- As a result of President Milosevic's sustained policy of ethnic cleansing, hundreds of
thousands of Kosovar people are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, particularly in
Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . Others remain in Kosovo, destitute
and beyond the reach of international relief. These people in Kosovo are struggling to
survive under conditions of exhaustion, hunger and desperation. We will hold President
Milosevic and the Belgrade leadership responsible for the well-being of all civilians in
- NATO and its members have responded promptly to this emergency. We have activated with
our Partners the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. NATO forces in the
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have constructed emergency accommodation for
refugees and have cared for them. NATO troops are also being deployed to Albania to
support the humanitarian efforts there and to assist the Albanian authorities in providing
a secure environment for them. We will sustain and intensify our refugee and humanitarian
relief operations in cooperation with the UNHCR, the lead agency in this field. NATO-led
refugee and humanitarian aid airlift operations for both Albania and the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia are already under way and they will increase. The steps being taken
by NATO and the efforts of other international organisations and agencies, including the
European Union, are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
- We pay tribute to NATO's servicemen and women whose commitment and skill are ensuring
the success of NATO's military and humanitarian operations.
- Atrocities against the people of Kosovo by FRY military, police and paramilitary forces
violate international law. Those who are responsible for the systematic campaign of
violence and destruction against innocent Kosovar civilians and for the forced deportation
of hundreds of thousands of refugees will be held accountable for their actions. Those
indicted must be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague in accordance with international law and the relevant
resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Allies reaffirm there can be no
lasting peace without justice.
- NATO has repeatedly stated that it would be unacceptable if the FRY were to threaten the
territorial integrity, political independence and security of Albania and the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have consulted closely and at a high level with both
countries on their specific concerns. We will respond to any challenges by the FRY to the
security of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stemming from the
presence of NATO forces and their activities on their territory.
- We are concerned over the situation in the Republic of Montenegro. We reaffirm our
support for the democratically elected government of President Milo Djukanovic which has
accepted tens of thousands of displaced persons from Kosovo. President Milosevic should be
in no doubt that any move against President Djukanovic and his government will have grave
- The Kosovo crisis underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to the stabilisation
of the crisis region in south-eastern Europe and to the integration of the countries of
the region into the Euro-Atlantic community. We welcome the EU initiative for a Stability
Pact for South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of the OSCE, as well as other regional
efforts including the South Eastern Europe Co-operation initiative. We are strengthening
the security dialogue between NATO and countries of the region with a view to building a
dynamic partnership with them and have tasked the Council in Permanent Session to develop
measures to this end. We look forward to a time when the people of Serbia can re-establish
normal relations with all the peoples of the Balkans. We want all the countries of
south-eastern Europe to enjoy peace and security.
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